information sheet 6.1 Writing a Press Release for Local Press

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1 information sheet 6.1 Writing a Press Release for Local Press There is a huge amount of positive, newsworthy work carried out within the voluntary and community sector. Securing press coverage of your news, events and projects is not only a good way to celebrate your achievements, it is also a good way of raising your profile and evidencing the impact you make. This Information Sheet is designed to help you write press releases that appeal to local media, such as local newspapers, newsletters and community radio stations. Before you start Think about your story carefully. Newspapers like stories about people. The human interest angle to a story is always the most important. Try and include your organisation s key messages too. These should be part of any business/marketing plan you have and really summarise what you do. Read the newspapers you are aiming to get coverage in and listen to the radio stations you wish to appeal to. See what kind of stories make the pages/airwaves and tailor your story to the way their journalists write/broadcast. Get the facts and figures in place. If you re holding an event, make sure the what, where, when and why questions are answered and make sure the details are correct. Check the names and contact details of people you quote from or refer to are correct. Ensure you have all of the background information you may need in case you are asked for more information. Writing your press release Structure Although press releases vary, there are general things that a journalist would expect to see. The template at the end of this Information Sheet sets out a draft press release for you and some tips on what should be included. Hints and tips Use quotes from real people Although your Chief Executive or Chair may know most about your project/ organisation, a quote from one of your members or service users is far more interesting to the general public. For example, if you ve received funding to run a befriending project, include a quote from someone who will benefit from the service rather than from one of your staff members. Or, better still include one from both! Find your USP That s marketing-speak for unique selling point i.e. the thing that makes you/your story different from everyone else. Are you the first? The biggest? The newest? The only? Are your volunteers particularly interesting? Or is your project breaking new ground?

2 If it s an event you re looking for coverage of, is there anybody of interest attending? Could you persuade a local celebrity/ dignitary to open the event? Another way to appeal to journalists is to ensure your story is timely. If your story reflects something that is happening in the national news, then mention that. Or if there is an annual campaign that your project fits into (e.g. National Volunteers Week; breast cancer awareness etc) then use that as the angle. Keep it snappy Stick the points; don t ramble about the history of your organisation or the background to a project unless it is relevant. Try to stick to no more than two sides of A4 one is even better. and easy to read Use a clear font no smaller than 12pt and space your text by at least 1.5 lines. Write in plain English (http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/) and avoid jargon at all costs. Invite them along! If you are holding an event or anything that offers a good photo opportunity, invite the journalist along. Mark it Photo Opportunity - ensure you give them a time and venue and don t forget your contact details! Sending your press release Research the journalists you want to reach. Most printed publications have contact details in them somewhere. or fax your release if possible. If you re not sure where to send it to then ask! Give the newsdesk a ring and tell them you have a story they may advise you on the best person to send it to. Follow it up There is no harm in telephoning a newspaper/journalist to ask if they have received your release and if they are interested in covering your story. If they don t cover your story, take photographs from the event or the launch of your project and send it afterwards as a report. Time it right When to send your release depends on the frequency and nature of the publication. If you are looking for coverage in a weekly newspaper, find out when their copy deadline is and ensure you get your press release to them plenty of time before that. Radio stations often pick their content more last-minute but if your story has a time element (e.g. an event) don t leave it too late! Be proactive too listen to the stations and if there is a phone-in on a topic that relates to your project/work/event, call them! Don t just leave it there Once your press release has been sent, it s tempting to just forget it. But don t! Put it on the press section of your website; follow it up with a phonecall to the journalist and if they cover it, thank them. Don t forget to check the publications you sent it to and keep any coverage you do receive for your records. Further Information media/pressreleases know-how/using-media 2 Social Enterprise

3 2013 VODA. All rights reserved. This material is intended for use by community and voluntary groups based in North Tyneside only. VODA owns the sole distribution rights to this material. Use or distribution by any other organisation or individual is strictly prohibited. Please report abuse to the VODA Operations Manager; Tel: North Tyneside VODA The Shiremoor Centre Earsdon Road Shiremoor NE27 OHJ (voice) (fax) Charity number Social Enterprise

4 Press Release Template PRESS RELEASE [INSERT DATE] LOGO Headline Opening paragraph. State clearly what is happening/what the news is, and include the what, why, who, where and when. Try and include your unique selling point here e.g. the biggest, the newest, raised the most money. Expand on the news/event here. State what your group/organisation does and why you are holding an event/what the funding you ve received will pay for etc. Quote 1: Try and make this an interesting quote from the human face of your story; the spokesperson, the export. Include their full name and either where they re from or what they do. E.g VODA volunteer, Joe Bloggs said... Or John Doe, Chief Executive of Mind said "put the quotes in italics to make it stand out. Try and make it punchy, positive and keep the sentences short. Keep your quote to two or three lines at the most if possible. Second quote with further information. If you have more than one useful quote, use the second one here with some further information. For instance, you could use a quote from an expert here backing up some statistical information or saying what difference the project will make to a certain area/group of people etc. Call to action. If you want people to act on the information in your press release, for example, to donate money or to attend an event, tell them how to do it here. Include any contact information and any other dry material you need to. ENDS [this indicates the end of the release proper i.e. the information that you want to be published; anything after this is for the journalist s information] For further information please contact: [Press contact here the person the newspaper should contact for further quotes or to arrange a photo opportunity, include a name, role, telephone number and address is possible]

5 Notes to editor: 1. Number these an include any additional information that may be useful to the journalist but that you do not necessarily want to be printed. Include your organisation s website address and links to any further reading that may be useful. 2. You may want to include further statistical information or details that may be used to pad the story out. Photograph If you have an appropriate, high res image include it here.

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